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Vlad Grama: ‘Don’t let a white canvas paralyze you’

Vlad Grama Design, aka Vlad-Christian Grama, is a Romanian designer who has embarked on a project of creating 365 posters, one a day for a year…

Vlad is a digital product designer by day, working at a multinational company, and an ‘alchemist of creation’ dabbling in all sorts of crazy design related endeavours by night.

I enjoy experimenting using raw, savage, and pure creative power, and by that I mean that everything I create is based on quick spontaneous mind games and inner brainstorm.

He also does freelance work as a UI/UX designer and consultant.

We spoke to Vlad about his 365 day poster project and more…

No. 72
How did you get started in digital art?

When I was 7-8 years old (I am 27 now), once a week I would go to my best friend’s house where he would let me use his computer. One day, he showed me MS Paint… and I was completely blown away.

“So you’re telling me that I could actually go crazy and create stuff on a computer and be able to just undo it?”

That day, I vowed that once I got my own PC, I would spend all my day just using Paint. And I wasn’t great at it, I just loved the idea of being able to do that on a computer.

No. 80

Years passed since that promise, but when it finally happened, I discovered Photoshop, where I could create forum signatures and user bars.

I used to play with layer effects and a mixture of renders (2D and 3D) using different backgrounds, skewed typography, and basic animation, all to create dynamic and dedicated scenes, which found their place on the gaming or tech related forums.

But this did not put me on a design related educational path, as I do not have any art related studies. I am 100% self-taught.

I remember when I was studying Horticulture in college, I used to skip classes just to be able to dig a bit more into the design world, and I always had a design related book in my backpack…

How did you hear about Affinity apps and what made you decide to use them for your project?

I don’t remember exactly, it might have been an ad, but I have been using Affinity Designer ever since the Beta for Windows was released.

I remember I was super pumped that a new, good looking, cheap design app, capable of working with symbols, had been launched for Windows. It replaced the program I used to work with, Inkscape.

I love your business ethics, the fact that you do a great job at equipping starting designers with pro level software, all on a competitive market, and also that you help them grow on social media. I also enjoy the look and feel of your apps. They keep a common visual language and slick user interface, with a multitude of features, but without bloat.

No. 146
What is this 365 day poster challenge all about? What do you hope to learn or gain from it?

#365shapes is a self-imposed challenge, in which I create a poster every day. The constraints are:

  • no plan or sketch should be done before.
  • must use vectors.
  • must use simple shapes.
  • must define a personal style.
  • must be flat.
  • can give depth.
  • don’t be afraid of the white canvas.
  • play with colour palettes.
  • must be ready in under an hour and a half.
  • rules are made to be broken!

When I established my style, I was inspired by Malevich’s suprematism, trying to blend it with a modern techy feel, with a pinch of order.

For me, this is a journey of self-discovery. Through this challenge I wish to sharpen my skills and to inspire others to do the same.

No. 68

What have I learned so far? The first thing it teaches you is to be consistent, to show up every day, to build work ethics, which is the foundation of my philosophy.

One time, I had to put aside the tremendous pain and the high fever, all to be able to continue my poster challenge, because showing up to work every day is in my nature. You may wonder, how can I do it? Well, you do it for the people that enjoy and follow your work, and depending on the circumstances, for your teammates!

The people you inspire, inspire you back, and this is a source of motivation. The best thing is being able to create from nothing… which is amazing in itself.

And, as corny as it sounds, you “ultimately, do it for love” (Elon Musk).

No. 64
How do you plan your poster for each day, considering you give yourself a time limit!

This is the “paradox”, I don’t plan it! This is why I imposed on myself the time limit. Look, don’t let a white canvas paralyze you. Start with a square, or a circle, or a triangle, and just go from there… form patterns, align objects, go symmetrical or/and asymmetrical, create depth if you want to, play with visual hierarchy if you need to. But like with all great journeys, you need to take the first step.

No. 174
What is your main inspiration?

I started the challenge after seeing a podcast with Vasjen Katro/Baugasm. It all started with a “what if”, and let’s just say it didn’t stay there, “because what if never went to the arena” (Greg Plitt).

No. 43

I find my inspiration in the daily mundane experiences, the city architecture, the digital interfaces I experience, and so on…

But what mostly inspired me is my desire to invent and reinvent myself, to always be as original as I can be, and ultimately to become a beacon of inspiration in guiding others.

You can see more of Vlad’s work at his website and follow his poster progress on Instagram.